Consumers encounter hundreds of brands every day. Getting in front of those consumers can mean the difference between success and failure for a brand. To stand out, a brand needs a well-thought-out strategy and a clever approach for using the right blend of earned, owned, shared and paid media.

Your in-house marketing team may have wonderful ideas for reaching your target audience, but may not have the bandwidth for a fully executed product launch or comprehensive content creation program. There are so many choices of agencies, consultancies and solopreneurs doing good work today, that it can be difficult to know which is the right fit for your needs.

Are You Ready for PR/Marketing Support?

One of the biggest mistakes brand marketing teams make is not thinking about what their needs are – what unique skill sets they need in an agency. Do you need a content marketing strategy? To generate more sales leads? Do you need to get your social media engagement up? What do you want a mention in BuzzFeed or Huffington Post to accomplish?

Think about your business goals, and take a strategic approach to identifying the agency that will be the best fit for your brand. A good PR/digital marketing agency focuses on what happens after the exposure. How can you nurture those consumers through the sales funnel and turn them into loyal customers?

Do you have the time necessary to spend with a PR firm to help them immerse themselves in your brand? Your fear that an external PR company can’t possibly know your business as well as you can be a valid one—if you don’t take the time to educate your chosen firm. Without that knowledge and brand history that only you can provide, they can’t be expected to represent your brand to your consumer audience in the best possible way.

Agencies That Cater to Your Exact Needs

Many PR and digital marketing firms specialize in businesses just like yours, with team members who are veterans of large global firms. By paying attention to their client list, you can determine if you’ve found a good fit. For instance, if you’re a start-up food and beverage brand, you may not get the same level of attention from a global firm that works with brand giants like Coca-Cola or Doritos with much bigger budgets. Instead, you will probably be better served to identify an agency with specific experience in generating buzz for startups and emerging, or “challenger,” brands.

Boutique agencies that specialize in your specific market are also likely to be nimble and flexible, able to turn on a dime if a particular strategy isn’t working. These marketers wear many hats and are typically up to date on the latest trends and technology. They have to be, in order to stay competitive. They are also more inclined to exhibit a more entrepreneurial spirit that matches your own – more agile, and less married to the “way it’s always been done.”

Is Boutique Right for You?

There are other considerations you should keep in mind before you make your choice, like value received for the money you pay. Would you like to know you have the option to speak to the principal when you pick up the phone? That you’ll receive fresh, new, creative ideas for every campaign? That you’ll see lower fees for the same level of experience?

Even if you already have an in-house department, an external agency can be a great choice. A boutique firm can act as an extension of your marketing team, providing agility and creativity for new campaigns while your in-house department handles the day-to-day PR and marketing.

Look at the quality of work experience, the agency’s culture, and measure the chemistry. Are they a specialist in your brand category? Does their work ethic match your own? Is there absolute transparency in their work? Finding the right fit for both is the Holy Grail, of course. Being a small fish in a large agency’s pond may not get you the attention you desire.

Neither big agencies or boutique firms are always the best choice, but smaller firms often have the luxury of being more fearless, resourceful, and nimble—a departure from the larger agencies that may be obligated to play-it-safe.